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Herbs & Oils
~ O ~
(Quercus alba or spp.)
Also known as Tanner's Bark, White Oak, and Common Oak. A Druid Holy tree, the oak was the King of trees in a grove. Oak bark and galls are astringent and antiseptic. Oak bark provides tannin and as leather tanners seemed immune to tuberculosis, the bark was used for treatment of the disease.
The white oak (Q. alba) is the best for internal use. Infuse the inner bark or young leaf (before Midsummer) for douches and enemas. Internal rectal problems, hemorrhoids, leukorrhea, menstrual irregularities, and bloody urine are also benefitted. Take internally as a tea a appl externally in fomentation, to shrink varicose veins. The tea brings down fevers, treats diarrhea, and makes a wash for sores. Up to three cups a day may be safely taken. As a gargle, it treats mouth sores and sore throats. Being an astringent, it stops internal bleeding. Black oak (Q. tinctoria) and red oak (Q. rubra) can be used externally. English oak (Q. robur) can be used both externally and internally.
Oak leaves are prepared in infusion for douches to treat vaginal infections; gather them before Midsummer. To prepare, steep one tablespoon per quart of water for thirty minutes. A tea of the buds is a valuable tonic for the liver; steep two teaspoons per cup of water for twenty minutes. Simmer the bark in salves to make a remedy for hemorrhoids.
Parts Used: Inner bark (cambium) and young leaf; for the leaf, use two teaspoons per cup and steep for twenty minutes; for the bark, use one tablespoon per cup and simmer for twenty minutes.
The Oak is a tree of the sun, and sacret to Brighid and the Dagda. Druids do not celebrate unless in the presence of an oak, yew, ash, or other sacred tree. Oak symbolized abundance, fertility, longevity, protection, and the ability to withstand the lightening blasts of spiritual awareness while remaning firmly rooted in the material. All parts of the tree are powerful protective charms, which bring healing. Magic wands are made of Oak Wood (Mine Is!). A tree as long-lived and strong as the oak naturally offers magical protection. Oak Galls, known as Serpent's Eggs, were used in magical charms. Acorns bring fertility and acundance to any edeavor. Carry one for luck. Acorns gathered at night hold the most fertility powers. The Druids and priestesses listened to the rustling oak leaves and the wrens in the trees for divinitory messages. Burning oak leaves purifies the atmosphere. Represents the God. Use galls in chars. Acorns draw money, burn the wood for good health, energy, strength, power, protection, defense, money and business.
Oak Moss is a whitish blue to green, shrubby lichen. A lichen is an alga (which photosynthesizes) and a fungus operating together in a symbiotic relationship. The Arabs use ground Oak Moss to leaven bread. It is collected as a violet-scented fixative and an oleo-resin, extracted for perfumes and soap. Native Americans used it when binding wounds; it is a stomach tonic and an expectorant, and soothes coughs. Oak Moss yields a purple wool dye, but air pollution has made it scarce.
Parts Used: Whole Plant
Magical Uses: Use to attract money.
ORANGE, SWEET: (Citrus sinensis) See Lemon
Magical Uses Use:
Peels in incense for love, good fortune, divination, balance, healing, harmony, peace, money and riches, Psychic awareness, Luck. A highly Solar scent, add essential oil to purification blends.
Dull and oily complexions; Obesity; Palpitations; Water Retention; Bronchitis; Chills; Colds; Flu; Constipation; Dyspepsia; Spasm; Nervous Tension; Stress-Related Conditions; Used to treat Mouth Ulcers. Key Qualities: Tonic; Refreshing; Warming; Uplifting; soothing; Sedative; Comforting.
(Iris germanica var.florentina Orris root has a stout rhizome, swordlike leaves, and large, scented flowers in early summer that range in color from pale blue to white.
Parts Used: Root
The orris root has long been used to find and hold love. The whole orris root is carried, the powder is added to sachets, sprinkled on sheets, clothing and the body as well as around the house. Orris root powder is sometimes known as "Love Drawing Powder". Use for: Divination; Protection; Psychic Awareness.
Botanical: Quercus robur
Family: N.O. Cupuliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparation and Dosage
The Common, or British Oak, for many centuries the chief forest tree of England, is intimately bound up with the history of these islands from Druid times. A spray of oak was for long engraved on one side of our sixpences and shillings, but is now superseded by the British lion. The Oak, although widely distributed over Europe, is regarded as peculiarly English.
The genus Quercus comprises numerous species, distributed widely over the Northern Hemisphere, and found also in Java, and the Mountains of Mexico and South America. One species from Guatemala, Quercus Skinneri, is remarkable for its resemblance to the Walnut (Juglans) in its lobed and wrinkled seed-leaves or cotyledons.
The Oak is subject to a good deal of variation; many species have been defined and many oaks of foreign origin are grown in our parks, the longest established being the Evergreen or Holm Oak (Q. ilex). There are two principal varieties of Q. robur, often regarded as separate species: Q. pedunculata, the Common Oak, which is distinguished by having acorns in ones and twos attached to the twigs by long stems, the leaves having scarcely any stalk at all; and Q. sessiliflora, the Durmast Oak, often included with the former, but distinct, the leaves being borne on long stalks, while the acorns 'sit' on the bough. This variety of oak is more generally found in the lower parts of Britain and in North Wales. It is not so long-lived as the Common Oak, and the wood, which has a straighter fibre and a finer grain, is generally thought less tough and less resisting.
Q. pedunculata and Q. sessiliflora make good timber, the latter being darker, heavier and more elastic. The wood of these trees when stained green by the growth of a peculiar fungus known as Peziza oeriginosa is much valued by cabinet-makers.
The shape of the oak leaves is too familiar to need description. The flowers are of two kinds; the male, or barren, in long drooping catkins, 1 to 3 inches long, appearing with the leaves, and the leaves and the fertile flowers in distant clusters, each with a cup-shaped, scaly involucre, producing, as fruit, an acorn 1/2 to 1 inch long.
The Oak is noted for the slowness of its growth, as well as for the large size to which it attains. In eighty years the trunk is said not to exceed 20 inches in diameter, but old trees reach a great girth. The famous Fairlop Oak in Hainault Forest measured 36 feet in girth, the spreading boughs extending above 300 feet in circumference. The Newland Oak in Gloucestershire measures 46 feet 4 inches at 1 foot from the ground, and is one of the largest and oldest in the kingdom, these measurements being exceeded, however, by those of the Courthorpe Oak in Yorkshire, which Hooker reports as attaining the extraordinary girth of 70 feet. King Arthur's Round Table was made from a single slice of oak, cut from an enormous bole, and is still shown at Winchester.
Humboldt refers to an oak in the Département de la Charente-Inférieure measuring nearly 90 feet in circumference near the base; near Breslau an oak fell in 1857 measuring 66 feet in circumference at the base. These large trees are for the most part decayed and hollow in the interior, and their age has been estimated at from one to two thousand years.
The famous Oak of Mamre, Abram's Oak, was illustrated formerly in the Transactions of the Linnean Society, by Dr. Hooker. It is a fine specimen of the species Q. Coccifera, the prickly evergreen or Kermes Oak, a native of the countries bordering on the Mediterranean; the insect (coccus) from which it derives its name yielding the dye known as 'Turkey red.' Abram's Oak is 22 feet in circumference; it is popularly supposed to represent the spot where the tree grew under which Abraham pitched his tent. There is a superstition that any person who cuts or maims this oak will lose his firstborn son.
The oak of Libbeiya in the Lebanon measures 37 feet in girth, and its branches cover an area whose circumference measured over 90 yards. The Arab name is Sindian.
The Greeks held the Oak sacred, the Romans dedicated it to Jupiter, and the Druids venerated it.
In England the name Gospel Oak is still retained in many counties, relating to the time when Psalms and Gospel truths were uttered beneath their shade. They were notable objects as resting-places in the 'beating of the parish bounds,' a practice supposed to have been derived from the feast to the god Terminus.
The following is a quotation from Withers:
'That every man might keep his own possessions,
Our fathers used, in reverent processions,
With zealous prayers, and with praiseful cheere,
To walk their parish limits once a year;
And well-known marks (which sacrilegious hands
Now cut or breake) so bordered out their lands,
That every one distinctly knew his owne,
And brawles now rife were then unknowne.'
The ceremony was performed by the clergyman and his parishioners going the boundaries of the parish and choosing the most remarkable sites (oak-trees being specially selected) to read passages from the Gospels, and ask blessings for the people.
'Dearest, bury me
Under that holy oke, or Gospel Tree;
Where, though thou see'st not, thou may'st think upon
Me, when you yearly go'st Procession.'
Many of these Gospel trees are still alive five in different parts of England.
An old proverb relating to the oak is still a form of speculation on the weather in many country districts.
'If the Oak's before the Ash,
Then you'll only get a splash;
If the Ash before the Oak,
Then you may expect a soak.'
The technical name of the Oak is said to be derived from the Celtic quer (fine) and cuez (tree).
A curious custom in connexion with wearing an oak-leaf (or preferably an oak-apple) on May 29, still exists in some villages in South Wilts. Each one has the right to collect fallen branches in a certain large wood in the district. To claim this privilege each villager has to bring them home shouting 'Grovely, Grovely, and all Grovely!' (this being the name of the large wood).
After the Oak has passed its century, it increases by less than an inch a year, but the wood matured in this leisurely fashion is practically indestructible. Edward the Confessor's shrine in Westminster Abbey is of oak that has outlasted the changes of 800 years. Logs have been dug from peat bogs, in good preservation and fit for rough building purposes, that were submerged a thousand years ago. In the Severn, breakwaters are still used as casual landing-places, where piles of oak are said to have been driven by the Romans.
As timber, the particular and most valued qualities of the Oak are hardness and toughness; Box and Ebony are harder, Yew and Ash are tougher than Oak, but no timber is possessed of both these requisites in so great a degree as the British Oak. Its elasticity and strength made it particularly advantageous in shipbuilding, and the oaks of the Forest of Dean provided much material for the 'wooden walls of England.' We read that Philip of Spain gave special orders to the Armada to burn and destroy every oak in that forest, and a century later, during a period of twenty-five years, nearly 17,000 loads of oak timber, of the value of L. 30,000 (pounds sterling), were despatched to naval dockyards from this forest. Nelson drew up a special memorial to the Crown on the desirability of replanting this forest with oak trees, and at that time no forester dared to cut down a crooked tree before maturity, because its knees and twisted elbows were so desirable in shipbuilding. A tree should be winter felled, if perfection of grain is desired. Although not employed as of old, for building ships of war, it is in great request for peaceful land transit, sharing with Ash in the making of railway carriages and other rolling stock. The roots were formerly used to make hafts for daggers and knives.
Some of the American kinds also furnish valuable timber. Such are Q. alba, the White or Quebec Oak, the wood of which is used in shipbuilding, and by wheelwrights and coopers. Q. virens, the Live Oak, also yields excellent timber for naval purposes. The wood of Q. ilex, a Mediterranean species, is said to be as good as that of the Common Oak. Q. cerris, the Turkey Oak, supplies a wood much in favour with wheelwrights, cabinet-makers, turners, etc. There are also several Japanese oaks, used for their excellent timber.
The False Sandalwood of Crete is the produce of Q. abelicea. This wood is of a reddish color, and has an agreeable perfume. The less valuable oaks furnish excellent charcoal and firewood.
The bark is universally used to tan leather, and for this purpose strips easily in April and May. An infusion of it, with a small quantity of copperas, yields a dye which was formerly used in the country to dye woollen of a purplish color, which, though not very bright, was said to be durable. The Scotch Highlanders used it to dye their yarn. Oak sawdust used also to be the principal indigenous vegetable used in dyeing fustian, and may also be used for tanning, but is much inferior to the bark for that purpose. Oak apples have also been occasionally used in dyeing as a substitute for the imported Oriental galls, but the black obtained from them is not durable.
In Brittany, tan compressed into cakes is used as fuel. Oak-bark is employed for dyeing black, in conjunction with salts of iron. With alum, oak-bark yields a brown dye; with a salt of tin, a yellow color; with a salt of zinc, Isabelia yellow. Q. tinctoria, a North American species, yields Quercitron Bark, employed for dyeing yellow; the American Indians are said to dye their skins red with the bark of Q. prinus. After the oakbark has been used for leather-tanning, it is still serviceable to gardeners for the-warmth it generates and is largely used by them under the name of Tan; it sometimes, however, favours the growth of certain fungi, which are harmful to plants. Refuse tan is also employed in the adulteration of chicory and coffee.
Acorns were of considerable importance formerly for feeding swine. About the end of the seventh century, special laws were made relating to the feeding of swine in woods, called pawnage, or pannage. In Saxon times of famine, the peasantry were thankful for a share of this nourishing, but somewhat indigestible food. The Board of Agriculture has lately issued a pamphlet, pointing out the use as fodder, which might be made both of the Acorn and of the Horse Chestnut. The analysis of the Acorn given by the Lancet is: water, 6.3 per cent; protein, 5.2 per cent; fat, 43 per cent; carbohydrates, 45 per cent. The most important constituent of both the Acorn and the Horse Chestnut is the carbohydrate in the form of starch, while the Acorn should have further value on account of the substantial proportion of fat which it contains. The flavour of Acorns is improved if they are dried, and a flour with nourishing properties can be obtained by grinding the dried kernels.
In many country districts acorns are still collected in sacks and given to pigs; but these must be mixed with other vegetable food to counteract their binding properties.
Oak trees are more persistently attacked by insects than any other trees.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The astringent effects of the Oak were well known to the Ancients, by whom different parts of the tree were used, but it is the bark which is now employed in medicine. Its action is slightly tonic, strongly astringent and antiseptic. It has a strong astringent bitter taste, and its qualities are extracted both by water and spirit. The odour is slightly aromatic.
Like other astringents, it has been recommended in agues and haemorrhages, and is a good substitute for Quinine in intermittent fever, especially when given with Chamomile flowers.
It is useful in chronic diarrhoea and dysentery, either alone or in conjunction with aromatics. A decoction is made from 1 OZ. of bark in a quart of water, boiled down to a pint and taken in wineglassful doses. Externally, this decoction has been advantageously employed as a gargle in chronic sore throat with relaxed uvula, and also as a fomentation. It is also serviceable as an injection for leucorrhoea, and applied locally to bleeding gums and piles.
---Preparation and Dosage---Fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Oak bark when finely powdered and inhaled freely, has proved very beneficial in consumption in its early stages. Working tanners are well known to be particularly exempt from this disease. A remedial snuff is made from the freshly collected oak bark, dried and reduced to a fine powder.
The bark is collected in the spring from young trees, and dried in the sun. It is greyish, more or less polished externally and brownish internally. The fracture is fibrous and the inner surface rough, with projecting medullary rays.
The older herbalists considered the thin skin that covers the acorn effectual in staying spitting of blood, and the powder of the acorn taken in wine was considered a good diuretic. A decoction of acorns and oak bark, made with milk, was considered an antidote to poisonous herbs and medicines.
The distilled water of the oak bud was also thought 'to be good used either inwardly or outwardly to assuage inflammation.'
Galen applied the bruised leaves to heal wounds.
Medicinal Action and Uses
Galls are excrescences produced in plants by the presence of the larvae of different insects. The forms that they assume are many, and the changes produced in the tissues various. They occur in all parts of the plant and sometimes in great quantities.
The oak galls used in commerce and medicine are excrescences on the Q. infectoria, a small oak, indigenous to Asia Minor and Persia, and result from the puncture of the bark of the young twigs by the female Gallwasp, Cynips Gallae-tinctoriae, who lays its eggs inside. This species of oak seldom attains the height of 6 feet, the stem being crooked, with the habit of a shrub rather than a tree.
The Common Oaks of this country are much affected by galls. They occur sometimes on the leaves, where they form the socalled 'Oak-apples,' sometimes on the shoots, where they do great mischief by checking and distorting the growth of the tree.
The young larva that hatches from the eggs feeds upon the tissues of the plant and secretes in its mouth a peculiar fluid, which stimulates the cells of the tissues to a rapid division and abnormal development, resulting in the formation of a gall.
The larva thus becomes completely enclosed in a nearly spherical mass, which projects from the twig, furnishing it with a supply of starch and other nutritive material.
The growth of the gall continues only so long as the egg or larva lives or reaches maturity and passes into a chrysalis, from which the fully-developed gall-wasp emerges and escapes into the air through a hole bored with its mandibles in the side of the gall.
The best Aleppo galls, collected in Asiatic Turkey, principally in the province of Aleppo, are collected before the insects escape.
Galls are also largely imported from Persia and to a lesser extent from Greece.
Aleppo Galls of good quality are hard and heavy, without perforations, dark bluish-green or olive green, nearly spherical in shape, 12 to 18 mm. in diameter (about 2/5 to 4/5 inch), and known in commerce as blue or green galls.
The Aleppo galls (from Q. infectoria) sometimes also called 'Mecca Galls,' are supposed to be the Dead Sea or Sodom Apples, 'the fruit that never comes to ripeness' - the fruit so pleasant to the eye, so bitter to the taste.
If collected after the insects have escaped, galls are of a pale, yellowish-brown hue, spongy and lighter in weight, perforated near the centre with a small hole. These are known in commerce as white galls.
On breaking a gall, it appears yellowish or brownish-white within, with a small cavity containing the remains of a larva of the Gall-wasp.
Galls have no marked odour, but an intensely astringent taste, and slightly sweet after-taste.
The chief constituents of Aleppo or Turkey Galls are 50 to 70 per cent of gallotannic acid, 2 to 4 per cent of gallic acid, mucilage, sugar, resin and an insoluble matter, chiefly lignin.
'White' galls contain less gallotannic acid than 'blue' or 'green.'
English Oak Galls, or Oak Apples, are smooth, globular, brown, usually perforated and much less astringent than Aleppo Galls, containing only 15 to 20 per cent of gallotannic acid. They have no commercial value.
China Galls - produced by a species of Aphis on Rhus semialata - are used mainly for the manufacture of tannic and gallic acids, pyrogallol, ink, etc. They are not spherical, but of extremely diverse and irregular form, with a thick, grey, velvety down, making them a reddish-brown color. They contain about 70 per cent of gallotannic acid.
Mecca Galls, from Bassorah, known as 'mala nisana,' are spherical in shape and surrounded about the centre by a circle of horned protuberances. They are not official.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Galls are much used commercially in the preparation of gallic acid and tannic acid, and are extensively employed in tanning and dyeing, in the manufacture of ink, etc.
Medicinally, they are a powerful astringent, the most powerful of all vegetable astringents, used as a tincture internally, in cases of dysentery, diarrhoea, cholera, and as an injection in gonorrhoea, leucorrhoea, etc.
Preparations of gall are usually applied as a local astringent externally, mainly in Gall ointment ( 1 OZ. powdered galls and 4 OZ. benzoated lard), applied to painful haemorrhoids, and also to arrest haemorrhage from the nose and gums.
An infusion may be used also as a gargle in relaxed throat, inflamed tonsils, etc.
---Preparations and Dosages---
Powdered gall, 5 to 20 grains. Fluid extract, 5 to 20 drops. Tincture, U.S.P., 1 drachm. Ointment, B.P. Compound ointment, B.P.
Oak, Polypody of
Botanical: Avena sativa (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Graminaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
It is unknown when Oats were first introduced into Britain.
There are about twenty-five varieties cultivated. The nutritive quality of Oats is less in a given weight than that of any other cereal grain. In the best Oats it does not exceed 75 per cent. Avena sativa, the Common Oat, has a smooth stem, growing up to 4 feet high, with linear lanceolate, veined rough leaves; loose striate sheaves; stipules lacerate; panicle equal, loose; spikelets pedunculate, pendulous, twoflowered, both perfect, lower one mostly awned; paleae cartilaginous, embracing the caryopsis; root fibrous, annual. The Naked or Pilcorn Oat differs slightly from the other: calyces three-flowered, receptacle exceeding the calyx; petals awned at the back; the third floscule awnless; and the chief difference lies in the grains, which when ripe quit the husk and fall naked. The grains as found in commerce are enclosed in their pales and these grains divested of their paleae are used for medicinal and dietary purposes; the grains when separated from their integuments are termed groats, and these when crushed are called Embden groats. Oatmeal is ground grain.
Starch, gluten, albumen and other protein compounds, sugar, gum oil, and salts.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Nervine, stimulant, antispasmodic. Oats are made into gruel. This is prepared by boiling 1 OZ. of oatmeal or groats in 3 pints of water till reduced to 1 quart, then straining it, sugar, lemons, wine, or raisins being added as flavouring. Gruel thus is a mild nutritious aliment, of easy digestion in inflammatory cases and fevers; it is very useful after parturition, and is sometimes employed in poisoning from acid substances. It is found useful also as a demulcent enema and boiled into a thick paste makes a good emollient poultice. Oatmeal is unsoluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but the two first move an oleoresinous matter from it. It is to be avoided in dyspepsia accompanied with acidity of the stomach. The pericarp of Oats contains an amorphous alkaloid which acts as astimulant of the motor ganglia, increasing the excitability of the muscles, and in horses causes excitement. A tincture is made by permeating 4 OZ. of ground oatmeal to 1 pint diluted alcohol, keeping the first 5 1/2 OZ. (fluid), and evaporating the remainder down to 1/2 fluid ounce, and adding this to the first 5 1/2 fluid ounces. The extract and tincture are useful as a nerve and uterine tonic.
Fluid extract, 10 to 30 drops in hot water. (The last dose at night should be taken in cold water instead of hot, or it may induce sleeplessness. - EDITOR.)
The text version of A Modern Herbal incorrectly references Oleander to Periwinkle.
The following addition is not part of the the original version of A Modern Herbal.
Botanical: Nerium oleander
Oleander, Rose Bay, Rose Bay Tree
An evergreen ornamental shrub to 12 feet high and as wide with white, pink or red flowers in spring and summer. The leaves resemble olive and bay trees. The flowers have five petals and resemble a tiny rose. It thrives in hot, mild climates and tolerates considerable drought, poor drainage and high salt content in the soil. Since deer will not eat this plant and it is so tolerant of a variety of poor soils, it is commonly used as a decorative freeway median in California and other mild-winter states in the USA.
All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and other animals. Children should be cautioned against eating the leaves and flowers. Prunings and dead leaves should be kept away from hay or other animal feed. The wood should not be used for barbecue fires or skewers. The smoke can cause severe irritation.
John Gerard says (from "The Herbal, or General History of Plants", 1633 edition),
"This tree being outwardly applied, as Galen saith, hath a digesting faculty; but if it be inwardly taken it is deadly and poisonsome, not only to men, but also to most kinds of beasts."
The flowers and leaves kill dogs, asses, mules, and very many of other four footed beasts: but if men drink them in wine they are a remedy against the bitings of Serpents, and the rather if Rue be added.
The weaker sort of cattle, as sheep and goats, if they drink the water wherein the leaves have been steeped, are sure to die."
Botanical: Olea Europaea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Oleaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Olea Oleaster. Olea lancifolia. Olea gallica. Olivier.
The oil of the fruit, leaves, bark.
Asia Minor and Syria. Cultivated in Mediterranean countries, Chile and Peru, and South Australia.
The high position held by the Olive tree in ancient as in modern days may be realized when it is remembered that Moses exempted from military service men who would work at its cultivation, and that in Scriptural and classical writings the oil is mentioned as a symbol of goodness and purity, and the tree as representing peace and happiness. The oil, in addition to its wide use in diet, was burnt in the sacred lamps of temples, while the victor in the Olympic games was crowned with its leaves.
Olea europaea is a small, ever green tree, averaging 20 feet or more inheight. It has many thin branches with opposite branchlets and shortly-stalked, opposite, lanceolate leaves about 2 1/4 inches long, acute, entire and smooth, pale green above and silvery below. The bark is pale grey and the flowers numerous, small and creamywhite in color.
The dark purple fruit is a drupe about 3/4 inch long, ovoid and often pointed, the fleshy part filled with oil. The thick, bony stone has a blunt keel down one side. It contains a single seed.
Being hardier than the lemon, the Olive may sometimes produce fruit in England. The largest of the varieties under cultivation is produced in Spain, but probably Italy prepares most oil, the annual average being 33 million gallons.
The beautifully-veined wood not only takes a fine polish, but is faintly fragrant, and is much valued for small cabinet-work. It was in olden days carved into statues of gods.
For use as a dessert fruit the unripe olives are steeped in water to reduce their bitterness. Olives à la Picholine are steeped in a solution of lime and wood ashes. They are bottled in an aromatic solution of salt.
In warm countries the bark exudes a substance called Gomme d'Olivier, which was formerly used in medicine as a vulnerary.
The large 'Queen Olives' grown near Cadiz are chiefly exported to the United States; the smaller 'Manzanillo' is principally consumed in Spain and Spanish America.
The trees bear fruit in their second year; in their sixth will repay cultivation, and continue as a source of wealth even when old and hollow, though the crop varies greatly from year to year.
The groves are cut until the beauty of the trees is lost.
The ripe fruits are pressed to extract the oil, the methods varying in the different countries.
Virgin Oil, greenish in tint, is obtained by pressing crushed fruit in coarse bags and skimming the oil from the tubs of water through which it is conducted. The cake left in the bags is broken up, moistened, and repressed. Sometimes the fruit is allowed to reach fermenting point before pressure, the quantity of oil being increased and the quality lessened. The product is called Huile fermentée.
Huile ordinaire is made by expression and mixture with boiling water.
Provence oil is the most valued and the most refined.
Official Olive soap is made from olive oil and sodium hydroxide.
The exuding gum-resin contains benzoic acid and olivile. Mannite is found in the green leaves and unripe fruit. The oil, Oleum Olivce, non-drying, fixed, solidifies on treatment with nitrous acid or mercuric nitrate, is slightly soluble in alcohol, miscible with ether, chloroform or carbon disulphide. The specific gravity is 0.910 to 0.915 at 25 degrees C. or 77 degrees F. It is pale yellow or greenish-yellow, with a faint odour and bland taste, becoming slightly acrid. At a lower temperature than 10 degrees C. or 50 degrees F. it may become a soft, granular mass. Tripalmitin crystallizes and the remaining fluid is chiefly triolein. There are also arachidic esters and a little free oleic acid.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The leaves are astringent and antiseptic. Internally, a decoction of 2 handsful boiled in a quart of water until reduced to half a pint has been used in the Levant in obstinate fevers. Both leaves and bark have valuable febrifugal qualities.
The oil is a nourishing demulcent and laxative. Externally, it relieves pruritis, the effects of stings or burns, and is a good vehicle for liniments. With alcohol it is a good hair-tonic. As a lubricant it is valuable in skin, muscular, joint, kidney and chest complaints, or abdominal chill, typhoid and scarlet fevers, plague and dropsies. Delicate babies absorb its nourishing properties well through the skin. Its value in worms or gallstones is uncertain.
Internally, it is a laxative and disperser of acids, and a mechanical antidote to irritant poisons. It is often used in enemas. It is the best fat for cooking, and a valuable article of diet for both sick and healthy of all ages. It can easily be taken with milk, orange or lemon juice, etc.
As a laxative, 1 to 2 fluid ounces.
Cotton-seed, rape, sesame, arachis and poppy-seed oils are the many adulterants found, and several official chemical tests are practised for their detection.
The flowers of Olea fragrans or Lanhoa give its odour to the famous Chulan or Schoulang tea of China.
Botanical: Allium cepa, (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Antiseptic, diuretic. A roasted Onion is a useful application to tumours or earache.
The juice made into a syrup is good for colds and coughs. Hollands gin, in which Onions have been macerated, is given as a cure for gravel and dropsy.
Botanical: Allium cepa, var. aggregatum
Family: N.O. Liliaceae
The Underground Onion. wiccan Onion.
The Potato Onion, also known as the Underground Onion, from its habit of increasing its bulbs beneath the surface, is very prolific. It is a valuable vegetable because it furnishes sound, tender, full-sized bulbs at midsummer, three months before the ordinary Onion crop is harvested. The bulbs are rather large, of irregular shape, from 2 to over 3 inches in diameter and about 2 inches thick. The flesh of the bulb is agreeable to the taste and of good quality. The skin is thickish and of a coppery yellow color.
In Lindley's Treasury of Botany this Potato Onion is called the 'wiccan Onion,' and is stated to have been introduced from Egypt about the beginning of the nineteenth century. It is much cultivated in the West of England, being quite hardy, productive, and as mild in quality as the Spanish Onion.
This variety of Onion produces no seeds and is propagated by the lateral bulbs, which it throws out underground in considerable numbers. It requires a well-worked, moderately rich soil, and is largely grown in Devon shire, where in view of the mildness of theclimate, the rule is to plant it in warm, sheltered situations in mid-winter, generally on the shortest day, with the hope of taking up the crop at mid-summer. In colder parts, however, the planting must be deferred until late winter, or early spring, yet the earlier it can be effected the better. The bulbs should be planted almost on the surface, in ground that has been previously well prepared and manured, and in rows 15 inches apart, with 6 to 10 inches space between the bulbs in the rows.
Each bulb will throw out a number of offsets all round it, which grow and develop into full-sized bulbs, which are taken up and dried when ready for pulling, and then stored for use and for future propagation. If the plants attain full maturity each bulb will produce seven or eight bulbs of various sizes. The strongest of these will in their turn produce a number of bulbs, while the weaker ones generally grow into a single, large bulb. The largest bulbs do not always keep so well as the medium-sized ones.
Botanical: Alliurn cepa, var. proliferum
Bulb. (Onions are a valuable disinfectant. Country people hang up a string of Onions as a protection against an infectious disease, and it has constantly been observed that the Onions will take the disease while the inmates remain immune. For this reason it is important to examine Onions before they are cooked, and to discard any which are imperfect.
The Tree Onion is a peculiar kind of Onion that produces at the top of a strong stem about 2 feet high, instead of seeds, a cluster of small bulblets, green at first, but becoming of a brownish-red color, and about the size of hazel nuts, the stems bearing so heavily that they often require some support.
This singular variety of Onion was introduced into this country from Canada in 1820. The French call it 'l'oignon d'Egypte,' but there is no proof that it is a native of that country. It is quite probable that it is the common Onion introduced from France into Canada by the early colonists and changed by the climate. Besides the stem Onions, a few effects are also produced underground.
The Tree Onion is propagated from the little stem bulbs alone, which are set in February, 2, inches deep and 4 inches apart, in rows 8 inches asunder. When planted in spring, these small bulbs form large ones by the end of the year, but do not produce any bulblets until the following year. When the bulbs are matured, they can be preserved in a cool place after they have been allowed to dry in the sun for a brief period. They are flat and of a coppery color, their flesh being considered tolerably agreeable to the taste, but rather deficient in flavour. The bulblets are excellent for pickling and keep very well, though the large bulbs do not always keep very long.
A variety of the Tree Onion, called the Catawissa Onion, or Perennial Tree Onion, was introduced from America thirty or forty years ago. It is distinguished from the Ordinary Tree Onion by the great vigour of its growth and the rapidity with which the bulblets commence to grow without being detached from the top of the stem. They have hardly attained their full size when they emit stems, which also produce bulblets, and in favourable seasons this second tier of bulblets will emit green shoots, leaves and barren stems, bringing the height of the plant up to over 2 1/2 feet. Only a small number of bulblets, generally two or three on each stem, are thus proliferous. The rest do not sprout in the first year and can be used for propagation. The plant is perennial, with long fibrous roots, and may be propagated by division of the tufts, in the same manner as Chives. No offsets are produced underground. A small bed of these is growing at the Whins: (the author's house at Chalfont St Peter. - Editor) they are very hardy, having lived outdoors in open ground all through the severe weather experienced in the early part of 1917. Moles greatly dislike the smell of Onions, and if one is planted in each mole run as it shows up, the mole will leave the ground altogether.
Botanical: Opoponax chironium
Family: N.O. Umbelliferae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Concrete juice from the base of stem.
Levant, Persia, South France, Italy, Greece, Turkey.
A perennial, with a thick, fleshy root, yellowish in color. It has a branching stem growing about 1 to 3 feet high, thick and rough near the base. Leaves pinnate, with long petioles and large serrate leaflets, the terminal one cordate, the rest deficient at the base, hairy underneath. The flowers, yellowish, are in large, flat umbels at the top of the branches. The oleo resin is procured by cutting into the stem at the base. The juice that exudes, when sun-dried, forms the Opoponax of commerce. A warm climate is necessary to produce an oleo gum resin of the first quality; that from France is inferior, for this reason. In commerce it is sometimes found in tears, but usually in small, irregular pieces. Colour, reddish-yellow, with whitish specks on the outside, paler inside. Odour, peculiar, strongly unpleasant. Taste, acrid and bitter. It is inflammable, burning brightly.
Gum-resin, starch, wax, gum, lignin, volatile oil, malic acid, a slight trace of caoutchouc.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
Antispasmodic, deobstruent. It is now regarded as a medium of feeble powers, but was formerly considered of service as an emmenagogue also in asthma, chronic visceral affections, hysteria and hypochondriasis. It is employed in perfumery.
10 to 30 grains.
From some species of Mulinum, and Bolax Gillesii and B. clebaria (belonging to same order), a gum-resin similar to Opopanax is obtained, which is employed by the native Chilian practitioners.
Botanical: Citrus vulgaris (RISSO.), var. Bigaradia
See Orange, Sweet, for more information.
Botanical: Citrus Aurantium (LINN.), var. dulcis
Family: N.O. Rutaceae
Medicinal Action and Uses
Preparations of Bitter Orange
Preparations of Sweet Orange
Citrus vulgaris. Citrus Bigaradia. Citrus aurantium amara. Bigaradier. Bigarade Orange. Bitter Orange. Seville Orange. (Sweet) Portugal Orange. China Orange. Citrus dulcis.
Fruit, flowers, peel.
India, China. Cultivated in Spain, Madeira, etc.
Both common and official names are derived from the Sanskrit nagaranga through the Arabic naranj.
It is a small tree with a smooth, greyishbrown bark and branches that spread into a fairly regular hemisphere. The oval, alternate, evergreen leaves, 3 to 4 inches long, have sometimes a spine in the axil. They are glossy, dark green on the upper side, paler beneath. The calyx is cup-shaped and the thick, fleshy petals, five in number, are intensely white, and curl back.
The fruit is earth-shaped, a little rougher and darker than the common, sweet orange: the flowers are more strongly scented and the glands in the rind are concave instead of convex.
The first mention of oranges appears in the writings of Arabs, the time and manner of their first cultivation in Europe being uncertain.
The small, immature fruits are sometimes used under the name of Orange berries for flavouring Curaçoa. They are the size of a cherry and dark greyish-brown in color. Formerly an essence was extracted from them.
The peel is used both fresh and dried. Much is imported from Malta, cut more thinly than that prepared in England.
In Grasse the blossoms are candied in large quantities.
Oil of petit grain is made from the leaves and young shoots.
The volatile oil of the bitter Orange peel is known as Oil of Bigarade, and Sweet Orange oil as Oil of Portugal. For methods of extraction, see LEMON.
Orange oil is one of the most difficult to preserve, the most satisfactory method being to add 10 per cent of its volume of olive oil.
The flowers yield by distillation an essential oil known as 'Neroli,' which forms one of the chief constituents of Eau-de-Cologne. A pomade and an oil are also obtained from them by maceration.
The oil from Sweet Orange blossoms is found in commerce under the name of 'Neroli petalae.' Being far less fragrant it only fetches half the price of neroli oil and on that account is frequently used to adulterate the true neroli oil.
The largest Bigarade-tree plantations are to be found in the South of France, in Calabria and in Sicily. The centre of the industry of neroli oil is the South of France, where the bitter Orange is extensively cultivated for that purpose alone. The tree requires a dry soil with a southern aspect. It bears flowers three years after grafting, increasing every year until it reaches its maximum, when it is about twenty years old. The quantity depends on the age and situation, a full-grown tree yielding on an average 50 to 60 lb. of blossoms. One hundred Orange trees, at the age of ten years, will occupy nearly an acre of land, and will produce during the season about 2,200 lb. of Orange flowers. The flowering season is in May and the flowers are gathered two or three times a week, after sunrise. When the autumn is mild and atmospheric conditions are favourable, flowering takes place in October, and this supplementary harvest lasts until January, or till a frosty morning stops the flowering. These autumn flowers have much less perfume than those of the spring and the custom is to value them at only one-half the price of May flowers. The Bitter Orange and Edible Orange trees bear a great resemblance to each other, but their leaf-stalks show a marked difference, that of the Bitter Orange being broadened out in the shape of a heart. The yield of oil is greatly influenced by the temperature and atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time of gathering. In warm weather it may amount to as much as 1,400 grams per 100 kilogrammes of flowers, but under adverse conditions, such as damp, cool and changeable weather, considerable diminution is experienced. Generally the largest yields are obtained at the end of the flowering season, on account of the warmer temperature.
The method most followed for extraction of the oil is by distillation, which yields a higher percentage of oil from the flowers than maceration or absorption in fats and volatile solvents. The flowers are distilled immediately after gathering, the essential oil rising to the surface of the distillate is drawn off, while the aqueous portion is sold as 'Orange Flower Water.' Orange flower water is being increasingly used in France by biscuit-makers to give crispness to their products, and some of the English biscuit-makers have also adopted it for this purpose.
There is a marked difference in the scent of the oils obtained by the different processes. Neroli obtained by distillation has quite a different odour from the fresh Orange flower; the oils obtained by solvents and by maceration and enfleurage are truest to the scent of the natural flower. From 100 kilogrammes of flowers 1,000 grams of oil are obtained; by volatile solvents, 600 grams; by maceration, 400 grams; and by enfleurage, only about 100 grams of oil.
Orange Flower Oil as obtained from pomatum, slightly modified with other extracts, can be employed to make 'Sweet Pea' and 'Magnolia' perfumes, the natural odours of which it slightly resembles.
The use of Orange-blossom as a bridal decoration is neither long-established nor indigenous, as it was introduced into this country from France only about a hundred years ago.
The peel of var. Bigaradia contains volatile oil, three glucosides, hesperidin, isohesperidin, an amorphous bitter principle, Aurantiamarin, aurantiamaric acid, resin, etc.
The ethyl ether of -naphthol, under the name of nerolin, is an artificial oil of neroli, said to be ten times as strong.
Oil of Orange Flowers is:
'soluble in an equal volume of alcohol, the solution having a violet fluorescence and a neutral reaction to litmus paper. The specific gravity is 0.868 to 0.880 at 25 degrees C. (77 degrees F.). When agitated with a concentrated solution of sodium bisulphate it assumes a permanent purple-red color.'
It must not be colored by sulphuretted hydrogen.
Oil of Sweet Orange Peel contains at least 90 per cent o-limonene, the remaining 10 per cent being the odorous constituents, citral, citronellal, etc. It is a yellow liquid with the specific gravity 0.842 to 0.846 at 25 degrees C. (77 degrees F.).
Oil of Bitter Orange Peel, a pale yellow liquid, is soluble in four volumes of alcohol, the solution being neutral to litmus paper. The specific gravity is 0.842 to 0.848 at 25 degrees C. (77 degrees F.). The odour is more delicate than that of the Sweet Orange.
Fuming nitric acid gives a dark green color to sweet peel and a brown to the bitter.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
The oil is used chiefly as a flavouring agent, but may be used in the same way as oil of turpentine in chronic bronchitis. It is non-irritant to the kidneys and pleasant to take.
On the Continent an infusion of dried flowers is used as a mild nervous stimulant.
The powdered Bitter Orange peel should be dried over freshly-burnt lime. For flavouring, the sweet peel is better, and as a tonic, that of the Seville or Bigaradia is preferred.
A syrup and an elixir are used for flavouring, and a wine as a vehicle for medicines.
The compound wine is too dangerous as an intoxicant, being mixed with absinthium, to be recommended as a tonic.
---Preparations of Bitter Orange---
Syrup, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Tincture, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Infusion of Orange, B.P., 4 to 8 drachms. Infusion of Orange Compound, B.P., 4 to 8 drachms. Compound spirit, U.S.P., 1 to 2 drachms. Syrup, B.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Wine, B.P., a wineglassful.
---Preparations of Sweet Orange---
Syrup, B.P. and U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm. Tincture, U.S.P., 1/2 to 1 drachm.
Botanical: Orchis maculata, Orchis latifolia, Orchis mascula, Orchis Morio, Orchis militaris, Orchis saccifera, Orchis pyrimidalis, Orchis coriphora, Orchis conopea
Family: N.O. Orchidaceae
Collection and Preparation
Consitituents and Uses
Salep. Saloop. Sahlep. Satyrion. Levant Salep.
Most of the Orchids native to this country have tuberous roots full of a highly nutritious starch-like substance, called Bassorin, of a sweetish taste and with a faint, somewhat unpleasant smell, which replaces starch as a reserve material. In Turkey and Persia this has for many centuries been extracted from the tubers of various kinds of Orchis and exported under the name of Sahlep (an Arabian word, corrupted into English as Saloop or Salep), which has long been used, especially in the East, for making a wholesome and nutritious drink of the same name. Before coffee supplanted it, it used to be sold at stalls in the streets of London, and was held in great repute in herbal medicine, being largely employed as a strengthening and demulcent agent. The best English Salep came from Oxfordshire, but the tubers were chiefly imported from the East.
Charles Lamb refers to a 'Salopian shop' in Fleet Street, and says that to many tastes it has 'a delicacy beyond the China luxury,' and adds that a basin of it at three-halfpence, accompanied by a slice of bread-and-butter at a halfpenny, is an ideal breakfast for a chimney-sweep. Though Salep is no longer a popular London beverage, before the war it was regularly sold by street merchants in Constantinople as a hot drink during the winter.
Salep is collected in central and southern Europe and Asia. Most, if not all, of the species of Orchis and some allied plants found in Europe and Northern Asia, are provided with tubers which when duly prepared are capable of furnishing Salep. The varieties represent two forms, the one with branched, the other, and preferable one, with rounded and unbranched tubers. The tubers occur in pairs, one a little larger than the other.
Of those species actually used the following are the more important: Orchis mascula (Linn.), O. Morio (Linn.), O. militaris (Linn.), O. ustulata (Linn.), O. pyramidalis (Linn.), O. coriophora (Linn.) O. longieruris (Link.). These species, which have the tubers entire, are natives of the greater part of Central and Southern Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus and Asia Minor. The following species, with palmate or lobed tubers, are equally widely distributed: O. maculata (Linn.), O. saccifera (Brong.), O. conopea (Linn.), and O. latifolia (Linn.).
In the East, Salep is mostly obtained from O. morio, which is of frequent occurrence in this country in chalky soils, but it can be made here equally well from O. mascula, the Early Purple Orchis, O. maculata and O. latifolia, which are more common and very widely distributed throughout the country.
O. mascula (Linn.), the Early Purple Orchis, common in English woods, is in flower from mid-April to mid-June. A single flower-stem rises from the tuberous root, bearing flowers that as a rule are of a rich purple color, mottled with lighter and darker shades, though often found of every tint from purple to pure white. Each flower has a long spur which turns upwards. The leaves are lance-shaped and do not rise far from the ground, giving a rosette-like effect, and are irregularly blotched with dark purple markings, which help to render the plant conspicuous. In woods and meadowland, the plant often attains a height of a foot or more, while on exposed and breezy downs it is seldom more than 6 inches high.
The blossoms are practically odourless in some specimens, whilst those of others are faintly fragrant, but in most cases the smell is not only strong, but offensive, especially in the evening. There is no honey in the flowers, but a sweet juice in the walls of the spur, which insects pierce with their probosces and suck out. The plant is provided with two fleshy, egg-shaped tubers, one serving to provide the necessities of the plant, shrinking as the plant reaches maturity, the other receiving the leaves' surplus supplies of foodstuffs to store for use in the following season.
Witches were supposed to use the tubers in their philtres, the fresh tuber being given to promote true love, and the withered one to check wrong passions. Culpepper speaks of them as 'under the dominion of Venus,' and tells us among other things, that 'being bruised and applied to the place' they heal the King's Evil.
This Early Purple Orchis in Northants is called 'Cuckoos,' because it comes into flower about the time when the cuckoo first calls. In Dorset it has the name of 'Granfer Griggles,' and the wild Hyacinth, which often flowers by its side, bears the name of 'Granny Griggles.'
O. Morio (Linn.), the Green-winged Meadow Orchis, is in flower about the same time as the Early Purple Orchis and resembles it in habit. It grows in meadows and is often very abundant. It is, however, a shorter plant, bearing fewer flowers in the spike, and is best distinguished by its two lateral sepals, which are bent upwards to form a kind of hood, being strongly marked with parallel green veins.
O. maculata (Linn.), the Spotted Orchis, receives its name from the blotches of reddish-brown, which mark the upper surfaces of the leaves similarly to those of O. mascula. The flowers, massed in spikes, about 3 inches long, on a stem about a foot high, with the leaves springing from it at distant intervals, vary in hue from pale lilac to rich purple, are curiously marked with dark lines and spots, and are very similar in structure to those of the Early Purple Orchis. It grows abundantly on heaths and commons, flowering inJune and July.
In this species, the tubers are divided into two or three finger-like lobes, hence the plant has been known as 'Dead Men's Fingers' (Hamlet, IV, vii), Hand Orchis, or Palma Christi. Gerard calls it the 'Female Satyrion,' orchids being known in his time as Satyrions, from a legend that they were specially connected with the Satyrs. The plants were believed to be the food of the Satyrs, and to have incited them to excesses. Orchis, in the old mythology, was the son of a Satyr and a nymph, who, when killed by the Bacchanalians for his insult to a priestess of Bacchus, was turned, on the prayer of his father, into the flower that bears his name.
O. latifolia (Linn.), the March Orchis, is a taller plant than the last, but has also palmate roots. The broad leaves are very erect, the flowers rose-colored or purple, the finelytapering bracts being longer than the flowers. This species, in common with the three preceding ones, sometimes bears white flowers. It is very frequent in marshes and damp pastures, and will be found in bloom in June and July.
The Salep of commerce is prepared chiefly in the Levant, being largely collected in Asia Minor, but to some extent also in Germany and other parts of Europe. The European Salep is always smaller than the Oriental Salep. The drug found in English trade is mostly imported from Smyrna. That sold in Germany is partly obtained from plants growing wild in the Taunus Mountains, the Odenwald and other districts. Salep is also collected in Greece and used in that country and in Turkey in the form of a decoction, which is sweetened with honey and taken as an early morning drink. The Salep of India is mostly produced on the hills of Afghanistan, Beluchistan, Kabul and Bokhara, and also from the Nilgiri Hills and Ceylon.
The drug was known to Dioscorides and the Arabians, as well as to the herbalists and physicians of the Middle Ages, by whom it was mostly prescribed in the fresh state. Gerard (1636 edition) gives excellent figures of the various orchids, whose tubers, he says, 'our age useth.' Geoffrey (1740), having recognized the salep imported from the Levant to be the tubers of an Orchis, pointed out how it might be prepared from the species indigenous to France.
Levant Salep, as occurring in commerce, consists of tubers 1/2 inch to 1 inch in length, oblong in form, often pointed at the lower end and rounded at the upper, where is a depressed scar left by the stem; palmate tubers are infrequent. They are generally shrunken and contorted, covered with a roughly granular skin, pale brown, translucent, very hard and horny, practically inodorous and with an insipid, mucilaginous taste. After maceration in water for several hours the tubers regain their original form and size.
The branched or palmate Salep tubers (Radix palmae Christi) are somewhat flattened and palmately two to five branched. The elongated mucilage cells are not so large as in the other form.
German Salep is more translucent and gummy-looking than that of the Levant, and more carefully prepared.
The Oriental Royal Salep, said to be much used as a food in Afghanistan, has been identified as the product of a bulbous plant related to the onion, Allium Macleanii (Pharm. Journal, Sept., 1889).
The Salep of the Indian bazaars, known as Salib misri, for fine qualities of which great prices are paid, is derived from certain species of Eulophia.
---Collection and Preparation---
Tubers required for making Salep are taken up at the close of the summer, when the seed-vessels are fully formed, as the next year's tubers then contain the largest amount of starchy matter and are full and fleshy.
The shrivelled ones having been thrown aside, those which are plump are washed and then immersed for a short time in boiling water, this scalding process destroying their vitality and removing the bitterness of their fresh state and making them dry more readily. The outer skins are then rubbed off and the tubers are dried, either by exposure to the sun, or to a gentle artificial heat in an oven for ten minutes and heated to about bread-making temperature. On removing from the oven, their milky appearance will have changed to an almost transparent and horny state, though the bulk will not be reduced. They are then placed in the fresh air to dry and harden for a few days, when they are ready for use, or to be stored for as long as desired, as damp does not affect them. The dried tubers are generally ground to powder before using; it has a yellowish color.
---Constituents and Uses---
The constituents of Salep are subject to great variation, according to the season of collection. Raspail found the old tuber, collected in autumn, to be free from starch, while the young one was richly supplied with it.
The most important constituent is mucilage, amounting to 48 per cent. It also contains sugar 1 per cent), starch (2.7 per cent), nitrogenous substance (5 per cent), and when fresh a trace of volatile oil. It yields 2 per cent of ash, consisting chiefly of phosphates and chlorides of potassium and calcium.
Salep is very nutritive and demulcent, for which properties it has been used from time immemorial. It forms a diet of especial value to convalescents and children, being boiled with milk or water, flavoured and prepared in the same way as arrowroot. A decoction flavoured with sugar and spice, or wine, is an agreeable drink for invalids. Sassafras chips were sometimes added, or cloves, cinnamon and ginger.
From the large quantity of farinaceous matter contained in a small bulk, it was considered so important an article of diet as to constitute a part of the stores of every ship's company in the days of sailing ships and long voyages, an ounce, dissolved in 2 quarts of boiling water, being considered sufficient subsistence for each man per day, should provisions run short. In this form it is employed in some parts of Europe and Asia as an article of diet. It is to the mucilage contained in the tuber that Salep owes its power of forming jelly, only 1 part of Salep to 50 parts of boiling water being needed for the purpose.
To allay irritation of the gastro-intestinal canal, it is used in mucilage made by shaking 1 part of powdered Salep with 10 parts of cold water, until it is uniformly diffused, when 90 parts of boiling water are added and the whole well agitated. It has thus been recommended as an article of diet for infants and invalids suffering from chronic diarrhoea and bilious fevers. In the German Pharmacopoeia, a mucilage of Salep appears as an official preparation.
Osier, Red American
Botanical: Cornus sericea (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Cornaceae
Swamp's Dogwood. Red Willow. Silky Cornel. Female Dogwood. Blueberry. Kinnikinnik. Rose Willow.
---Parts Used---Root-bark and bark.
---Habitat---North America, Florida to Mississippi.
A water-loving shrub, growing from 6 to 12 feet high. Branches spreading, dark purplish; branchlets silky downy; leaves narrowly ovate or elliptical, pointed, smooth above, silky downy below and often hairy upon ribs on petioles from half an inch to an inch long. Flowers yellowish white, small, disposed in large terminal, depressed and woolly cymes or corymbs. Berries globose, bright blue, stone compressed. It is found in moist woods and on the margins of rivers, flowering in June and July.
The active properties are similar to those found in Peruvian Bark, except that there is more gum mucilage and extractive matter and less resin quinine and tannin.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---
It is tonic astringent and slightly stimulant, used in periodical and typhoid fever. Taken internally it increases the strength and frequency of the pulse, elevating the temperature of the body. It should be used in the dried state, the fresh bark being likely to upset the stomach.
The powdered bark has been used as toothpowder, to preserve the gums and make the teeth white; the flowers have been used in place of chamomile.
Botanical: Cornus circinata
Family: N.O. Cornaceae
---Part Used---Fresh bark.
A homoeopathic tincture of the fresh bark is administered in ulcerated conditions of the ucous membranes and in liver complaints and jaundice.
Botanical: Helminthia echioides
Closely allied to the Sow Thistles and somewhat resembling them in general appearance is the Bristly Ox Tongue (Helminthia echioides), frequently met with in England on hedgebanks and on waste ground, especially on clay soil, but less common in Ireland and rare in Scotland.
It is somewhat stout and coarse, the sturdy stems attaining a height of from 2 to 3 feet, branching freely and covered with short, stiff hairs, each of which springs from a raised spot and is hooked at the end.
The lower leaves are much longer than the upper, of lanceolate or spear-head form, with their margins coarsely and irregularly toothed and waved. The upper leaves are small and stalkless, heart-shaped and clasping the stem with their bases. All the leaves are of a greyish-green hue and very tough to the touch.
The flower-heads are ordinarily somewhat clustered together on short stalks and form an irregular, terminal mass at the ends of the main stems. The involucre, or ring of bracts from which the florets spring, is doubled outside the ring of eight to ten narrow and nearly erect scales, simple in form and thin in texture, is an outer ring composed of a smaller number of spiny bracts of a broad heart-shape, in their roughness of surface and general character resembling the leaves of the plant. The combination of the inner and outer bracts may be roughly compared to a cup and saucer, and gives the plant a singular appearance.
The Ox Tongue is in blossom during June and July; all the florets of the flower-heads, as in the Dandelion, are of a rich golden yellow.
The generic name, Helminthia, is Greek in origin and signifies a small kind of worm. It is suggested that the name was bestowed from the form of the fruit, but it seems more likely that the name may have been applied to the plant from some former belief in its power as a vermifuge. It has by some botanists been assigned to the genus Picris. The specific name, echioides, refers to the rough, prickly character of the stems and leaves.
In spite of its spiny character, the Ox Tongue was used as a pot-herb in the same manner as the Sow Thistles, but can only be eaten when young, when it is said to have a pleasant taste. The juice is milky, bitter, but not extremely acrid.
The HAWKWEED OX-TONGUE (Picris hieracioides), a closely allied plant, has been similarly employed as a pot-herb. It is a rather slender plant, 2 to 3 feet high, the stems rough with hooked bristles, the stalkless leaves narrow, rough and toothed; flowers numerous and yellow. It is abundant on the edges of fields, especially in a gravelly or calcareous soil, and flowers from July to September. The name of the genus is derived from the Greek picros (bitter), from the bitter taste of the plant.
See (sow) THISTLE.
It is so well known (the timber thereof being the glory and safety of this nation by sea) that it needs no description.
Government and virtues :
Jupiter owns the tree. The leaves and bark of the Oak, and the acorn cups, do bind and dry very much. The inner bark of the tree, and the thin skin that covers the acorn, are most used to stay the spitting of blood, and the bloody-flux. The decoction of that bark, and the powder of the cups, do stay vomitings, spitting of blood, bleeding at the mouth, or other fluxes of blood, in men or women; lasks also, and the nocturnal involuntary flux of men. The acorn in powder taken in wine, provokes urine, and resists the poison of venomous creatures. The decoction of acorns and the bark made in milk and taken, resists the force of poisonous herbs and medicines, as also the virulency of cantharides, when one by eating them hath his bladder exulcerated, and voids bloody urine. Hippocrates saith, he used the fumes of Oak leaves to women that were troubled with the strangling of the mother; and Galen applied them, being bruised, to cure green wounds. The distilled water of the Oaken bud, before they break out into leaves is good to be used either inwardly or outwardly, to assuage inflammations, and to stop all manner of fluxes in man or woman. The same is singularly good in pestilential and hot burning fevers; for it resists the force of the infection, and allays the heat. It cools the heat of the liver, breaking the stone in the kidneys, and stays women's courses. The decoction of the leaves works the same effects. The water that is found in the hollow places of old Oaks, is very effectual against any foul or spreading scabs. The distilled water (or concoction, which is better) of the leaves, is one of the best remedies that I know of for the whites in women.
Are so well known that they need no description.
Government and virtues :
Oats fried with bay salt, and applied to the sides, take away the pains of stitches and wind in the sides or the belly. A poultice made of meal of Oats, and some oil of Bays put thereunto, helps the itch and the leprosy, as also the fistulas of the fundament, and dissolves hard imposthumes. The meal of Oats boiled with vinegar, and applied, takes away freckles and spots in the face, and other parts of the body.
This small plant never bears more than one leaf, but only when it rises up with his stalk, which thereon bears another, and seldom more, which are of a blueish green color, pointed, with many ribs or veins therein, like Plantain. At the top of the stalk grow many small white flowers, star fashion, smelling somewhat sweet; after which come small red berries, when they are ripe. The root is small, of the bigness of a rush, lying and creeping under the upper crust of the earth, shooting forth in divers places.
It grows in moist, shadowy and grassy places of woods, in many parts of this land.
It flowers about May, and the berries are ripe in June, and then quickly perishes, until the next year it springs from the same root again.
Government and virtues :
It is a precious herb of the Sun. Half a dram, or a dram at most, in powder of the roots hereof taken in wine and vinegar, of each equal parts, and the party laid presently to sweat thereupon, is held to be a sovereign remedy for those that are infected with the plague, and have a sore upon them, by expelling the poison and infection, and defending the heart and spirits from danger. It is a singularly good wound herb, and is thereupon used with other the like effects in many compound balms for curing of wounds, be they fresh and green, or old and malignant, and especially if the sinews be burnt.
It has almost as many several names attributed to the several sorts of it, as would almost fill a sheet of paper; as dog-stones, goat-stones, fool-stones, fox-stones, satiricon, cullians, together with many others too tedious to rehearse.
To describe all the several sorts of it were an endless piece of work: therefore I shall only describe the roots because they are to be used with some discretion. They have each of them a double root within, some of them are round, in others like a hand; these roots alter every year by course, when the one rises and waxes full, the other waxes lank, and perishes. Now, it is that which is full which is to be used in medicines, the other being either of no use at all, or else, according to the humour of some, it destroys and disannuls the virtues of the other, quite undoing what that doth.
One or other of them may be found in flower from the beginning of April to the latter end of August.
Government and virtues :
They are hot and moist in operation, under the dominion of Dame Venus, and provoke lust exceedingly, which, they say, the dried and withered roots do restrain. They are held to kill worms in children; as also, being bruised and applied to the place, to heal the king's evil.
They are so well known, that I need not spend time about writing a description of them.
Government and virtues :
Mars owns them, and they have gotten this quality, to draw any corruption to them, for if you peel one, and lay it upon a dunghill, you shall find it rotten in half a day, by drawing putrefaction to it; then, being bruised and applied to a plague sore, it is very probable it will do the like. Onions are flatulent, or windy; yet they do somewhat provoke appetite, increase thirst, ease the belly and bowels, provoke women's courses, help the biting of a mad dog, and of other venomous creatures, to be used with honey and rue, increase sperm, especially the seed of them. They also kill worms in children if they drink the water fasting wherein they have been steeped all night. Being roasted under the embers, and eaten with honey or sugar and oil, they much conduce to help an inveterate cough, and expectorate the tough phlegm. The juice being snuffed up into the nostrils, purges the head, and helps the lethargy, (yet the often eating them is said to procure pains in the head). It hath been held by divers country people a great preservative against infection to eat Onions fasting with bread and salt. As also to make a great Onion hollow, filling the place with good treacle, and after to roast it well under the embers, which, after taking away the outermost skin thereof, being beaten together, is a sovereign salve for either plague or sore, or any other putrefied ulcer. The juice of Onions is good for either scalding or burning by fire, water, or gunpowder, and used with vinegar, takes away all blemishes, spots and marks in the skin: and dropped in the ears, eases the pains and noise of them. Applied also with figs beaten together, helps to ripen and break imposthumes, and other sores.
Leeks are as like them in quality, as the pome-water is like an apple. They are a remedy against a surfeit of mushrooms, being baked under the embers and taken, and being boiled and applied very warm, help the piles. In other things they have the same property as the Onions, although not so effectual.
Common Orpine rises up with divers rough brittle stalks, thick set with fat and fleshy leaves, without any order, and little or nothing dented about the edges, of a green color. The flowers are white, or whitish, growing in tufts, after which come small chaffy husks, with seeds like dust in them. The roots are divers thick, round, white tuberous clogs; and the plant grows not so big in some places as in others where it is found.
It is frequent in almost every county of this land, and is cherished in gardens with us, where it grows greater than that which is wild, and grows in shadowy sides of fields and woods.
It flowers about July, and the seed is ripe in August.
Government and virtues :
The Moon owns the herb, and he that knows but her exaltatation, knows what I say is true. Orpine is seldom used in inward medicines with us, although Tragus saith from experience in Germany, that the distilled water thereof is profitable for gnawings or excoriations in the stomach or bowels, or for ulcers in the lungs, liver, or other inward parts, as also in the matrix, and helps all those diseases, being drank for certain days together. It stays the sharpness of humours in the bloody-flux, and other fluxes in the body, or in wounds. The root thereof also performs the like effect. It is used outwardly to cool any heat or inflammation upon any hurt or wound, and eases the pains of them; as, also, to heal scaldings or burnings, the juice thereof being beaten with some green sallad oil, and anointed. The leaf bruised, and laid to any green wound in the hand or legs, doth heal them quickly; and being bound to the throat much helps the quinsy; it helps also ruptures and burstenness. If you please to make the juice thereof into a syrup with honey or sugar, you may safely take a spoonful or two at a time, (let my author say what he will) for a quinsy, and you shall find the medicine pleasant, and the cure speedy.
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